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Santa Lucia Trail

Trail Report

In the form below, enter a Subject line or title (optional), the date you hiked the trail, and a a rating as to the general passability of that trail then follow up with a more detailed narrative of the specific conditions or problems encountered. For the longer trails some folks like to segment the specific conditions part of their reports, reporting conditions in a serial fashion between landmarks such as camps or junctions. This is fine so long as the entire report is specific to a particular named trail.

Enter the code exactly as it appears. All letters are case insensitive.
Wilderness Freeway: Heavily used and well maintained.
Clear: No obstacles and tread well defined.
Passable: Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident.
Difficult: Brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread.
Impassable: Completely overgrown or tread obliterated.

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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: Santa Lucia Trail

Re: Santa Lucia Trail

Post by Samuel on Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:27 am

Date Hiked: March 25, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from Arroyo Seco to Last Chance Camp and back via Indians / Arroyo road. Made it around the wash out just fine, but can imagine this option may not be everyone's cup of tea due to the poison oak. Also noticed a couple slides from the hillside over the trail just past the trail head proper where it first skirts the canyon before the major creek crossings. Not sure if these have been there a while, but they're relatively close together. In one case it looks like a Manzanita and it's root system have come down over the trail not leaving much room between trail and edge. This is on a narrow and steep portion of the trail, and I would call it passable for now, but can imagine when the soil dries out or with another rain, these could become trouble spots. Beyond this the trail is in great shape and its a great time to hike it, super lush and scenic. Creek crossings were fairly clear and wild flowers are starting to make their appearance. Hiked to Last Chance camp then left the trail to head up the creek to the falls, so didn't see much of the trail past the camp.

Seeing the Arroyo Seco in heavy flow on the way back from Indians was a delight.

Re: Santa Lucia Trail

Post by pantilat on Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:25 pm

Date Hiked: February 5, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

An update on the dangerous slip out described by Jack Glendening in prior reports:

There has been additional slide activity and the trail bed has essentially been wiped out; whatever is left is loose and about to tumble. As Jack mentioned, a slip here would have serious consequences as the fall path is essentially a bedrock cliff down to the creek. The trail is no longer a safe option. Fortunately, one can back track a few feet and go up, over and around the slide area through some poison oak. A new trail will likely need to be constructed above the slide area in this vicinity.

The trail becomes increasingly overgrown beyond the Last Chance Falls viewpoint and especially beyond the Bluff Usecamp where the brush tunnel is collapsing in spots (turning it into a hobbit tunnel) and vegetation is growing in the trail.
Scary run out with new slide activity
Only a few inches of trail bed remain.

Re: Santa Lucia Trail

Post by Betsy M on Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:53 pm

Date Hiked: January 2, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I also hiked the section from the Adobe to the connector trail. I agree with Jack's assessment of the trail. Best it has been in at least 20 years. Brush and overhanging tree limbs cleared way back. Tread good. Just a pleasure to hike this section. I'd call the main sections wilderness freeway, and the relatively short creek crossing section passable.

One update: I took some time to scout out all the 8 creek crossings. In a couple of places they were confusing, and now with new flagging (I added to Jack's highly visible flagging in a few places) this route is easily followed. Just be careful when the poison oak leafs out. On this misty day, the moss was green and glowing. Newts were wandering everywhere.

Re: Santa Lucia Trail

Post by jack_glendening on Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:45 am

Date Hiked: December 20, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This is an update on the DANGEROUS spot between Last Chance Camp and the Indians-ArroyoSeco Connector Trail reported on earlier. The tread has been widened somewhat and the dangerous section more clearly marked, so it it LESS dangerous than before if crossed carefully with feet against the rock side. But it remains dangerous, as a fall there would result in a 60 ft near-vertical drop with at best serious injury. Updated photos below.
View from above
View from below

Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Post by jack_glendening on Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:10 am

Date Hiked: December 20, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

NOTE: though I did not hike from the northern trailhead down to Camp Cawatre Trail intersection, I've heard that the northern end of that route has been worked on by an Americorps team, and so should be in excellent condition, and the southern end has been crossed in several places by dozers lines, making trail identification more difficult.


The section south to the first creek crossing has just been worked on by an Americorps team and is in excellent "Clear" condition (slightly narrow in places, hence not a "Wilderness Freeway"), making hiking the Santa Lucia gorge a very enjoyable experience. Further south the trail crosses the creek 8 times and so becomes rocky and more difficult to follow - some cairns have been created and I flagged the crossings which were not already flagged but this section remains "Passable" to "DIfficult".

Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Post by jsisalinas on Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:39 pm

Date Hiked: April 23, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Trail is in excellent condition from Memorial Park to about 2.75 miles in. Thanks trail crews for your work. A little brushy up to the saddle at trail junction with Arroyo Seco trail, but not too bad.Brush becomes a little worse from there to the top but the the tread is easy to follow. About a dozen deadfalls but they are easy to step over. As always beautiful views of the Los Padres in every direction.

[Ed: must mean junction with Santa Lucia (Creek) Trail]

Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Post by jack_glendening on Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:14 pm

Date Hiked: March 12, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)


Trail well marked by cairns and flagging. Tread generally in good shape, except for one small section of eroded tread (not dangerous) AND ONE DANGEROUS SECTION. Relatively little brush, except for poison oak encroachment.

The DANGEROUS SECTION is between the Connector intersection and Last Chance Camp (36.19399,-121.47464). A 4 foot section of tread has been eroded AND UNDERCUT, with minimum tread of 10 inches. It's stability is unknown. The upslope side is rock with no good holds. I (150 lb including daypack) passed it in both directions cautiously, with my foot against the upslope rock - but found myself wondering how much of a chance I'd taken. If it goes, there is a 57 ft (rangefinder-measured!) NEAR-VERTICAL DROP. A pick axe might be able to break up the upslope rock since it had fissures, not a monolithic slab - but it would take a lot of work. A small tree is further upslope, above the rock - a rope could be placed around it for safety.

Looking down from tread to bottom of drop
Horizontal view: tread at top, under-tread rock below

Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Post by jack_glendening on Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:25 am

Date Hiked: July 11, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Will echo previous report for Santa Lucia Trail - except I found spur to road more passable than difficult (with daypack). Added some flagging to those creek crossings not clearly marked (though currently creek is mostly dry).


Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Post by ScottB on Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:48 pm

Date Hiked: July 1, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Note: the Difficult rating is for the Spur to Indians-Arroyo Seco Road, not the entire Santa Lucia trail to Last Chance Camp.

Hiked out of Arroyo Seco Campground from the upper parking area, taking Santa Lucia trail that tracks above gorge "road", then down to adobe and out to Last Chance Camp. The trail up until about halfway to Last Chance Camp was fine, but then some (merely) bothersome growth crept in (but some of it was poison oak, so worth paying attention). Trail was still quite reasonable down to Santa Lucia creekbed. At this point the trail was challenging to follow, in large part because the terrain was dry creek rocks and brush rather than dirt path that could be easily beaten down to show route. Plastic ties on the trees were very helpful in marking crossings, but it was still a challenge, and plenty of undergrowth to push through.

Further down the creekbed (before the fork), the trail turns right and switchbacks up the slope to the signed intersection of "Road 1"/ Last Chance Camp/ J. Serra Jct. 7/ Cawatre Tr. The spur from this intersection to the Road had a great deal of woody overhang and an abundance of poison oak, sometimes intermixed. The trail route is obvious, but the intruding shrubs really slows you down and grabs at your pack as you navigate pushing through it. At one point, no kidding, I had to get down on hand and knees to get through the small opening below the brush (the slides were too steep and/or overgrown to pass above or below the trail). Most of the trail was plagued by the overhanging growth. Definately not for someone without long pants,etc.

The views are remarkable, so it was a worthy hike, but the spur desperately needs clearing.

Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Post by gfelsman on Sun May 03, 2015 5:27 pm

Date Hiked: May 2, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

14 of us hiked to the summit today. It a beautiful day, not too warm. There are still plenty of flowers to found along the trail including larkspur, scarlet bugler, gentian, wooly blue curls, bush poppies and an occasional Mariposa Lilly. Be aware that there is no water along the trail at this time and depending on the temperature the flies may come out.

Trail conditions:

The first two miles are clear with no major obstacles. Thank to the VWA Volunteer Crew at the end of March.

From there to the Santa Lucia Trail Sign, Deerweed is all over the trail with lots of encroaching vegetation. The trail is easy to follow.

From the Santa Lucia Trail Sign to the saddle, a little less Deerweed, but still lots of encroaching brush. Lots of areas required some pushing through.

From the Saddle to the saddle just short of Junipero Serra. The trail is considered passable. The tread is in fair shape. On the sunny south side there is encroaching brush., but not as much as on the northern side of this ridge. We had lots of scrapes and bruises along this section. A long sleeve shirt would really help. The regrowth of vegetation from the fire is finally working its way into the trail.

Once at the second saddle the trail does clear up quite a bit. Much easier going. about 10 trees down along this section, al easy to get over. Still plenty areas of encroaching brush. The summit is beautiful as always.

I would recommend a light long sleeve shirt to pass many of these areas with less scratching.

If trail work is to be done in the future I would leave the logs alone and work on encroaching brush. The leaves on the bush are very sharp.

We all had a good time, just a bit tired by the time we reached the bottom.
Morning 2 Juniper Serra Peak.jpg
Morning on the Trail 2
Morning on the Trail.jpg
Morning on the trail
The old Tower.jpg
The Old Tower